A deal to have Southern California Edison customers responsible for $3.3 billion of about $4.6 billion in unassigned San Onofre costs could be put on hold, if a consumer group from San Diego has its way.
The group, the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre, has requested a stay on the the deal until the relationship between the California Public Utilities Commission and the plant operator is examined.
The relationship between two commissioners and utility companies has been questioned on two other occasions. Email records released by Pacific Gas & Electric show that the company attempted to have a judge the company favored put in charge of a proceeding on natural gas and transmission rates, U-T San Diego.com reported.
Commission President Michael Peevey and Commissioner Mike Florio were involved in the email exchanges, the report said. The case, while not directly related to the San Onofre deal, suggests the two commissioners have “cozy” relations with PG&E executives.
It has also been suggested that the commissioners were soft on PG&E after a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010.
Consumer groups assert that the deal over San Onofre costs favors the nuclear plant's shareholders over the consumer.
Attorney Michael Aguirre, representing San Diego area consumers, has requested records dating back to 2005 that might reveal meetings between the two commissions and San Onofre operator Southern California Edison.
The commission said in September that complying with the record request could take a “considerable” amount of time. Meanwhile, Raymond Lutz, director of the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre said the $4.6 billion deal should not be ratified by the commission until the company releases the records.
San Onofre was shut down in 2013 after a tube in one of the plant's recently installed steam generators sprang a leak. The Mitsubushi Heavy Industries-built generators were supposed to extend the life of the power plant. Instead, a series of problems with the 65-foot tall, 620-ton generators, which cost $680 million, lead to a quick closure of the plant and accusations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that design problems with the generators were badly handled.
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It is unfortunate that those who wanted to close San Onofre are now unwilling to bear the direct consequences of their actions. It wasn't the shareholders who wanted to close the plant, it was a minority of environmental activists who convinced Senator Boxer to force a delay in licensing approvals such that SCE concluded it was no longer financially feasible to continue operating the plant. You can't force the cost up and then blame the company for not paying the bill. You broke it. You bought it. Unfortunately, those of us who are rate-payers that still wanted to keep the plant open will be stuck paying the bill as well.
If you want to force a nuclear plant to close, you should be willing to bear the cost, and you should not be surprised when the rest of us (who saw our rates climb because of YOUR agenda) are ticked off at you.